There are many ways that someone can tear their meniscus, but the most common torn meniscus cause is a forceful twisting of the knee. Normally this happens when a person has their foot planted and their knee is twisted in a different direction. This is common in athletics but can also occur during regular activity. Meniscal tears can also be caused by degeneration in older patients as the cartilage becomes less supple.
Torn Meniscus: Traumatic Injury
Traumatic injury meniscus tears can happen at any age and are those meniscus tears that happen during activity or athletics. The most common way that a meniscus is torn is when the foot is planted in one place and the knee twists in another direction. However, other unnatural twisting or impact to the knee can also cause a torn meniscus. The most common meniscal tears that occur from sports injuries are radial or longitudinal tears to either part of the meniscus or to the entire thing. They normally are treated with orthopedic surgery to repair the tear.
In many cases, meniscus tears happen alongside other knee injuries to the ACL or MCL since the cartilage, joints, and tendons in the knee can easily be injured during sports. Injuries to all three of these, often called the “unhappy triad” normally occurs when the foot is planted and the knee is hit and forced into another direction, like in football. Treatment of such injuries can bring about a long recovery time in most patients and sometimes requires physical therapy.
Torn Meniscus Degenerative Process
As people age, unfortunately their meniscus ages as well and can sometimes tear due to age. As the meniscus ages, it becomes more brittle and is more prone to tearing. This type of torn meniscus is normally known as degenerative meniscus tears and usually results in smaller tears where the meniscus frays or cracks. It is most common in people over 40 years of age. Degenerative meniscus tears happen in both the medial and lateral meniscus and are more common in smokers because they tend to lose more collagen in their cartilage.